One of my annual "fees" is a membership in Amazon Prime. This is a $79.00 a year membership. When I originally joined Amazon many moons ago, I was in Europe with no English library and ordered lots of books. The free shipping option was a real money saver. Since then, each year I have hesitated at renewal. I wonder if I use it enough, if the advantages are worth while. Every year I decided to keep the thing, if only for Christmas and textbooks. Guaranteed free two day shipping is worth it even if you only order a fifty pound textbook a couple times a year. And of course, it also allows me to purchase a small, single item when I need it instead of waiting to combine shipping (hello fuzzy socks).
And then...I got a smart TV. I've never been fond of streaming on my laptop. I've done it on rare occasions, but I don't do it as a habit. Now however, I have a "Smart TV". Yes, this means I stream without a Roku box, a game system, or another apparatus. As an aside, this particular TV, a forty inch flat screen was $499.00 and the fact of having self streaming was well worth the price. And yes I realize that now that I can steam, I may want to use that laptop as well during travel times.
Since then, I've discovered the advantages of Amazon Prime-which as I mentioned, costs $79.00 annually. That's $6.58 monthly, or a couple dollars less than a Netflix streaming subscription-at the moment I have both. I discovered that Amazon has a huge selecting of streamable (did I just make a new word?) programs, be they TV shows or movies. Fans of the Netflix show House of Cards may be interested to know that Amazon has it's own programming. We've been watching Alpha House, about a group of Senators who share a townhouse when they are in Washington-absolutely hilarious. Then I belatedly discovered free Kindle usage for Prime members. Not just the occasional books that are free, mind you, but other options. I've been borrowing current Amazon reading for free on my Kindle borrowing library.
Finally, a friend messaged me on Facebook. about a program called Kindle First, that allows me to read a book prior to it's release-for free. Kindle users who don't have prime have the same options, albeit for a price. While the article hints that the goal is more Kindle users, from what I can see most of the books are also being released in traditional form. I think Amazon also benefits (as does the author) from early book reviews. This month my choices were this group, and read The Barkeep, which I'll be reviewing shortly. The bottom line is that for me, the Amazon Prime fee pays for itself year after year.
Of course Amazon is not the only membership I benefit from. I mentioned my trip to the Nick Cave exhibit at the Denver Art Museum-free because my sister has a membership. It works for them, because they have a family membership, and go at least four times a year-as well as getting free guest passes for almost every event. I am unsure of whether I will visit a minimum of four times a year, which would be the breaking point for me. On the other hand, the Botanical Gardens (which have two locations in the city), are a place I know I would visit regularly, so an annual membership is worth while. The gardens have a summer concert series, an annual orchid show, Christmas lights, a spring plant sale, classes, and a Fall maze. And that's without the beauty of the sculptures and plants themselves.
An AARP membership makes sense for many people. At this point I have not made that jump. I have health and home insurance, and I do my travel planning without assistance. I have road coverage elsewhere. So that particular jump has not been made.
On the other hand, one of the reasons I was willing to pay my (very moderate) homeowners insurance was because of the community pool. Now that I no longer have that, I am looking closely at the swim and racket club. Denver does get VERY hot in the summer (and feels hotter a mile high), and I have been spoiled by always having access to an outdoor pool in warm weather.That means that this year, I am going to pay the reasonable ($150 for the season) pool and tennis membership. I honestly looked at the higher priced golf/tennis and swim country club for around $400 a year. I don't golf, my son would never settle for a par3 course no matter how "mature" and the membership simply would not be worth it.
I still tend to turn down first and then rethink when it comes to memberships or monthly fees, but I'm learning that on occasion, the freight is well worth the cost.
What about you?